You’re already thinking about your end-of-life care: drawing up a will, creating trusts, and selecting the people who will make medical decisions on your behalf. While you’re completing all of these plans, don’t neglect one of the most stressful parts of saying goodbye to a loved one: funeral arrangements.
Although you may have said things to your friends and family about what you would like to be done with your remains after you die, it’s unlikely that you have actually made official plans.
In this article, we will discuss how to pre-plan your funeral arrangements to get the funeral service you want while taking the burden off of the family you leave behind.
Why Pre-Plan Your Funeral Arrangements?
It’s not something that anyone likes to think about, but making your funeral arrangements ahead of time is the perfect way to make sure that your wishes are met and take the burden of planning off of your loved ones.
Whether you’ve always wanted to be cremated and have your ashes scattered in a coral reef or buried in the family vault with a certain epitaph, these are all decisions that you can make (and pay for) ahead of time, rather than leaving those decisions up to your distraught family members.
Think about it, if you were in the position of suddenly preparing for a loved one’s funeral or memorial service, would you appreciate having to make a chain of decisions about location, burial methods, caskets, and floral arrangements?
Taking the time to narrow down the options and make the choice for yourself is by far the easiest way of planning a funeral.
How to Pre-Plan Your Funeral
It’s not a pleasant task, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a complicated one.
Pre-planning your funeral allows you to be organized, have your last wishes met, and save money on the cost of your funeral (the average funeral costs around $8,500). The following tips will help you plan a beautiful, memorable service on a budget.
Create a Funeral Checklist
When it comes to your funeral arrangements, the best way to have your wishes met is to not leave anything out of your plans.
Create a funeral checklist listing the type of service, burial, and memorial service you want. Include both big items (whether you want to be buried or cremated, for example) and small (what type of flowers do you want at the memorial service).
In addition to tasks directly related to your funeral service, you might also want to include things like:
- who should be notified of your death,
- where your estate planning documents (such as your will) are located,
- what information should be included in your obituary, and
- what charity (if any) you would like well-wishers to donate to.
Having a funeral arrangement checklist is also a good way to prevent the task from becoming too overwhelming. You can take as long as you like to gradually check each item off your list.
One of the main benefits of pre-planning a funeral is that you don’t have to do it in a hurry.
Having lots of time to plan your own funeral leaves plenty of time for you to shop around for the best price. Websites like Parting.com and Funeralocity.com allow users to comparison shop various funeral homes in their area.
As you shop around, ask for the “general price list” at each funeral home. They are required by law to provide you with this upon request. In fact, a simple Google search for a funeral home’s general price list will often show you the itemized list of all services, so you can make an informed decision.
Join A Memorial Society
If one is available in your area, consider joining a memorial society.
For an affordable, one-time fee (as low as $30 for an individual), you will have access to affordable funeral prices from a local funeral home. These societies negotiate with local funeral homes to offer body removals, burials, and cremations that are often hundreds of dollars cheaper than the funeral homes’ usual rates.
To see if there is a memorial society near you, contact the Funeral Consumer’s Alliance.
Another great way to save money on a quality funeral service is to work with locally owned and operated funeral homes, which could cost roughly half of a service at a mega-chain.
Smaller, family-owned homes are also much more attuned to the needs of their communities and therefore provide much better service than a corporation who cares about about the bottom line.
Other Ways to Save
It may surprise you to know that many “essential” funeral expenses aren’t essential at all. Embalming, silk-lined caskets, bouquets of white roses, and silver urns can all be replaced or even completely skipped over while still allowing you to maintain a dignified service.
At each stage of your funeral planning, ask yourself whether you truly want/need a specific item or will it simply be a waste of money. With a few simple changes, you can save several hundred dollars and still have a funeral that meets your expectations.
Making funeral arrangements doesn’t have to wait until after you die. With a little organization, you can plan a beautiful, memorable, and affordable funeral service that reflects your wishes.